• Sudeep Tumma

Scouting Report: Jaden Ivey Is the Best Guard Prospect In This Draft

He's explosive, he's talented, he's Jaden Ivey.

Jaden Ivey is one of those breathtaking athletes who’s got the chance to be a special NBA talent.

The 6-4, 195-pound Purdue guard is often compared to Ja Morant and/or Russell Westbrook, which are apt comparisons with his athletic gifts.

He boasts a 6-10 wingspan, is lighting-quick and possesses explosive leaping ability, which only taps the surface of his gaudy profile.

Ivey had the chance to dart for the 2021 NBA draft following a strong finish to his freshman campaign, where he would have likely been a late first-round pick. Instead, he decided to return for a second year.

And it was a great decision.

The No. 1 issue draft pundits had with Ivey coming into the season was his perimeter shooting. He’s completely reversed the narrative this season and become a lethal spot-up shooter from range.

Through 24 games, Ivey is shooting 40.5% from deep on a healthy 4.8 attempts. And when I say he’s got range, he’s *blink twice* got range.

Ivey flourishes on catch-and-shoot opportunities. He stretches the defense so far from the basket with his willingness to pull up from deep.

The shot mechanics aren’t bad. In a lot of respects, it reminds me of Tyrese Haliburton’s evaluation from a few years ago. The form was funky, but you couldn’t knock the production. He shot 41.9% on 5.6 3-point attempts.

Ivey doesn’t have the highest release point on his shot, and despite his outstanding vertical, doesn’t elevate much on his jumper. Still, he’s got a quick enough release. And as I said, he makes them. Can’t argue with the results.

There are some flashes of pulling up off the dribble, but the majority of those 3-pointers come off spot-up looks. At least at this point in his development.

He doesn’t utilize too many pump fakes out of his shot to dribble-drive past defenders, but his jumper certainly forces defenders to close out on him, which is when he really takes advantage.

As you can imagine, his first step is electric. His raw athleticism allows him to get to the rack. But I love the change-of-pace, start/stop ability and patience he displays when he puts the ball on the floor.

Ivey — most of the time — doesn’t recklessly drive in and get caught in bad spots. He’s got a tremendously high IQ, so he has a feel for when the angles and creases open. And for a guy with his physical gifts, those angles/creases don’t have to be so wide.

He keeps defenders off balance with his start/stop ability. They have to account for his explosive burst, then when Ivey comes to a complete stop and starts again, it’s a true conundrum.

Ivey also displays such savviness with his change-of-pace ability. He changes gears so well. He can lull you to sleep, then explode past you instantaneously. He’s got a strong feel for body leverage with that pace, which makes him a devastating cover.

Then when he gets to the rim, his obscene vertical and hang time, coupled with exceptional body control and good touch, allow him to finish through contact. Ivey’s ability to contort his body and/or switch hands in the air and score is a thing of beauty.

He typically doesn’t utilize too many moves when he drives. You’ll see some of the euro steps and spin moves every so often, but it’s mostly reliant on his athleticism.

There are times when Ivey runs a bit out of control and goes in with a full head of steam, which appears to be a product of trusting his athleticism too much.

He often gets away with him, but when he doesn’t, it results in a turnover or a charge.

Still, Ivey has gobs of talent, but he isn’t much of a shot-creator at the moment. You’ll rarely see him pull up in the mid-range off the dribble. When he does, it won’t usually go in. He gets to his spots, they just aren’t hitting yet. That’s the next step in his development.

While many say the mid-range game is dead, as a pick-and-roll ball-handler in the NBA, the mid-range is critical. When the help defender wants to play drop coverage and solely worry about you driving, you need to be able to hit those pull-up jumpers in the middle area to maintain effectiveness on those plays.

Overall, the shooting has taken a promising upward trend with the extra year in college. And he’s also helped himself in another critical aspect: passing.

Ivey’s playmaking skills were also subject to criticism, but he’s really upped his game there. His passing vision is fluid. He finds teammates whenever he’s doubled.

With his ability to force defenders to rotate, he opens passing angles and hits them with regularity. Ivey is tallying 3.2 assists per game on the year.

That welcomed improvement should further his appeal as a true combo guard. He’s got legit potential in that sense, but he really thrives as an off guard right now.

Ivey’s off-ball movement is tremendous. He comes pin downs well, he spaces out and floats to open spots and executes some killer backdoor cuts — something we saw a lot of from Morant at Murray State.

He’s got solid handles, with the ability to break down defenses. So all the traits are there. He’ll just need to hone in as a true floor general to play the 1.

It’s funny to think — with how talented Ivey already is — he’s still dripping with upside.

Not just his offensive game but also his rebounding. Ivey averages 5.1 rebounds, which is a solid mark, but he hasn’t fully committed to it.

We’ve seen the damage Westbrook does on the board. He’s got the athleticism, but it’s his effort that brings him to 10-plus rebounds all those seasons.

Rebounding is effort and technique more than anything, but the physical traits certainly help.

It’s the same with Ivey. He’s inconsistent on when he crashes the boards, often relying on his vertical/length to pluck boards. When it’s his man, he’ll typically do a good job boxing him out. But he’s almost allergic to the offensive glass.

Ivey will often leak out in transition before the board is secured. Which could be good or bad depending on where you’re standing. But overall, inconsistent is an apt word.

With his physical gifts, if he commits to rebounding, he could dominate as a rebounder both ways.

As a defender, when Ivey is locked in, he hounds and harasses ball handlers. He’s got solid lateral quickness to stick, and the 6-10 wingspan aids him as a one-on-one defender.

I love his defensive intensity. He stays locked as a help defender, playing some ball denial and sticking with his assignment. Ivey has good instincts as a weakside help defender, understanding when to slide to double and has the foot speed to do so. The IQ pops up once again in that aspect. He’s fundamentally sound on team defense.

As we talked about, Ivey is the real deal. His athleticism is tantalizing, and it’ll be the backbone of his upside going forward, but it’s not the be-all-end-all. He blends it so well with his skill.

And that won’t stop in the NBA.

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